I have only one problem with my Shimano SPD-SL pedals, the cleats wear out every year. Shimano cleats are made of plastic so it’s not like they should last forever, but at 29 bucks they are some really expesnsive plastic. I used Look pedals for a short time and while I much prefer the SPD-SL, one benefit with the Look pedals was cheap aftermarket cleats.
I was happy to see recently that aftermarket cleats are now available from Exustar and unnamed manufacturers. Since I’m super thrifty I bought a cheap set from ebay for 10 bucks. You can get them cheaper direct from China if you want to wait a month, but these were from the US.
They arrived in about a week, oddly another bike part I ordered on the same day came in 3 days from California. They came with the required mounting hardware and a bonus 4mm hex wrench. Only real surface difference I could tell between these and Shimano cleats were the screws, they are longer which is a good thing if you use cleat wedges.
No surprises attaching the cleats, and no surprises clicking in. They work identically to Shimanos. The yellow rubberized plastic which is included for grip is definitely not as soft as Shimanos which I thought might be a good thing. The reason these cleats wear out is damage from walking around. Yes a person could use cleat covers when walking, or avoid walking in their shoes, but I that seems silly to me.
After about 4 rides with the new cleats I thought to check them out, to my surprise on the left foot the yellow front plastic was gone, it had just fell off. In probably 10 sets of Shimano cleats that has never happened. It should be noted that this plastic seems to have no effect on how the cleats actually work, the shoe still clips in and out the same, and I can’t really tell a difference walking, though I’m sure if I stepped in a slick spot I would notice. I’m also worried without the yellow plastic the cleat will wear out much faster. I’m going to keep using them, but keep an eye on it.
So you get what you pay for, Shimano cleats can now be purchased for 20 dollars online or at your bike shop. I would go with the genuine cleats and avoid the knockoffs.
I have said many times that I can be very lucky. The first night I used these cleats I took off for a short ride to test them out. A couple miles out of town I took to the rail trail to return home. I had a pinch flat, I had also recently changed saddles and forgotten to reattach the saddle bag where my patch kit and pump are located. Oh and I left my phone at home too.
I removed my brand new shoes and started walking, after a mile of walking on the concrete bike path I was back in town but still 2 miles from home. I saw the truck of my parent’s neighbor who rides the trail most nights. I said to myself, “Self, it should would be nice if she was done with her ride and could give me a lift home.” Before I’d even finished my thought here she came down the trail and she was happy to give me a ride to my parents where I could patch my tube. What luck!